A complete story is a model of the mind at work. Narrative structure depends on the nature of that mind’s base operating system: does it prefer linearity or holism? While the Linear approach to Premise building is clear-cut and forward, the Holistic approach is more complex.
Main Character Problem-Solving Style
One of the standout features of Subtext is the Premise. Based on a previous article entitled How to Build a Narrative Argument, the breakdown on a premise allows an Author to determine the critical structural Storybeats of their narrative. Reducing the complexity of a Dramatica storyform down to a single sentence opens up greater understanding and draws the writer closer to their intuition.
If, in fact, that intuition is appropriately honored.
Unfortunately, early versions of Subtext skewed the Premise towards a specific segment of the population, i.e., the Linear thinker. Enraptured in goals and problem-solving, these cause-and-effect thinkers speak of Premise in a way that is simple to understand—and even easier to code.
Do this, and you get that. You might fail if you let go of this, but you’ll feel better for it.
Clear-cut and concise.
The latest version of Premise within Subtext addresses a somewhat under-served portion of the world, the kind who prefers balancing issues, rather than solving goals. While much of the conflict we experience can be zeroed out by the Linear thinker, there is another that recognizes an inequity is never indeed solved: the Holistic thinker.
The Holistic operates from a position of receptiveness—understanding that while we may know the answer, an even better one may show itself if we are willing to receive it.
Sometimes to resolve inequities, we need to align ourselves first before the solution presents itself. We literally can’t see the answer because we’re too unbalanced and confused in our own minds. And even when we achieve that balance, the inequity is never entirely eliminated—the leveraging between various inequities continues from now until the end of days. The Holistic aligns the self to hear with better eyes.
Linear problem-solvers deal with on or off, Problem and Solution. Solve the problem and conflict disappears—like turning off a light switch.
Holistic problem-solvers—if there were such a thing—deal in waves of tendency and the balance of concerns holistically. Balance the inequity and the potential for conflict wanes—like singing a nostalgic and patriotic song to brighten a room full of national adversaries.
The holistic mind solves problems by justifying—by balancing self with the environment with the justification that emphasis over here will somehow help address conflict over there.
A Changed Resolve narrative deals with a Dilemma—with the imbalance between Problem and Solution. Linear thinkers attack these kinds of stories by *problem-solving. * They find the Element creating conflict, label it a Problem, and then fix it with a Solution.
Holistic thinkers resolve conflict by justifying—by coming into alignment with themselves and balancing the relationship between self and environment. They recognize the inequity for what it is and seek equity elsewhere.
One problem-solves, the other justifies.
Problem-solving is easy. It’s even easier to program as most of coding is a linear approach to solving a problem (if x = 5 then goto 20).
Justifying requires a different skill set of mental gymnastics. Applying that to a premise requires capturing the essence of the self being in alignment, or balance, with forces external. Finding the right balance of narrative concerns then leads one to seek leverage points that open the path to the desired outcome.
See—even explaining it involves a more sophisticated appreciation than only if this, then that.
To a Linear mind, a Successful Outcome and a Good Judgment is a Triumph. To the Holistic mind, the same set of narrative dynamics feels less like achieving a Goal and more like bringing oneself into Alignment.
The Matrix is structured holistically—that’s why it feels so much different than Star Wars or Star Trek. As Main Character, Neo (Mr. Anderson) seeks balance in all things, trying to find the balance between his self-doubts and what everyone else thinks he can do.
If he were Linear, and the film structured appropriately, the Premise would be:
Give up doubting yourself and you can defeat a corrupt system.
To a Linear mind, that statement reads true. And for the first year and a half of Subtext, that’s how the Premise read.
But it isn’t The Matrix.
To a Holistic that inequity of self-doubt never goes away completely—it’s always there, needing to be addressed and dealt with day after day.
A Holistic Premise, and one that captures the essence and feel of the message of The Matrix, would be:
Address doing right by others by balancing your self-doubts with your personal truth.
To a Holistic, that statement makes far higher sense than the previous one. To a Linear, it might appear as if one is not facing their problems or making excuses for not merely doing what needs to be done, but the Holistic knows otherwise.
Sometimes, what needs to be done is to find balance—and then the solution, or outcome, presents itself naturally.
This is why a Holistic might sometimes refer to the “universe” as providing them answers. Explaining this behavior to Linear-minded folk requires using a primarily linear language to justify a process that sits outside of linearity. The only way to kind-of-sort-of discuss the kind of knowledge that doesn’t emanate from consciousness is to equate it with the universe working in tandem with the self.
To the Linear, this line of thinking sounds like kooky-nonsense, to the Holistic it perfectly describes how answers come to them.
Breaking down the Linear Premise into its principal components reveals two key Elements:
Give up DISBELIEF and you can OBTAINING.
Disbelief is the tie to the subjective point-of-view from within and defines the Main Character Problem of The Matrix.
Obtaining defines the Story Goal of The Matrix and solidifies the objective point-of-view of conflict in that film.
Problem and Solution. Goal and Consequence. If you do this, then that will happen. Strict linearity in narrative form.
Breaking down the Holistic Premise reveals a slightly skewed version of similar thematics:
Address ALTRUISM by finding balance with your DISBELIEF and your FAITH.
Instead of the Goal, we now focus on the Overall Story Issue for objective footing—in this case, Altruism, or thinking of others first.
Disbelief finds its way in their again, but instead of seeing it as a Problem, we view it subjectively as a point of imbalance—with Faith on the other side of the scale.
The Holistic Premise acknowledges this alternate way of thinking by shifting the emphasis of the Objective Premise Element away from the Story Goal, as it is found in a Linear approach, and down to the Overall Story Issue. In this way, the Premise continues to focus on the differential between self and external—but does so by referring to the more ephemeral and balance-laden appreciation of an Issue familiar to Holistics.
With this approach, we capture the essence of both the Linear and Holistic approach and provide Authors from all across the spectrum a means to better appreciate the narrative dynamics within their stories.
As indicated, this latest development calls for the addition of two new Appreciations of narrative: the Subjective Premise Element and the Objective Premise Element. The combination of the two within a single context determines a wide range of narrative dynamics responsible for the structure of a story.
True to form, the Holistic requires more explanation and a third Appreciation: the Subjective Premise Balance. Appearing as Faith in the example of The Matrix above, this Balance identifies the leverage point needed to counteract and bring into alignment the Subjective Element.
While the specifics of the Overall Premise Element shift dependent on Holism or Linearity, Success or Failure, the Subjective Premise Element is always the Main Character’s Crucial Element as found in the Dramatica theory of story.
This Element was always deemed crucial as it signified the connection between the objective and subjective views. This concept of the Subjective Premise Element defines specifically why it is so essential to the understanding of a story.
All this to describe one possible narrative—the one where the self is brought into alignment and balance achieved. But what about those moments when we find ourselves in a low state of emotion or disconnected entirely?
If this new appreciation of Premise—a Holistic appreciation—recognizes the understanding that no problem is ever indeed solved, then this first step will act as a temporary balance of concerns. By bringing ourselves into alignment with the Holistic experience, we open ourselves up to receiving the answers we seek and the outcome we desire for ourselves.
For now, the potential for greater understanding is balanced—until the next one comes along.
Main Character Problem-Solving Style
In the previous article on A Holistic Understanding of Premise, the concept of applying an emotional state to a narrative argument found balance in aligning the self with the outside world. As many can attest, maintaining this state is an act of impossible defiance that far too often finds one off the intended path. Appreciate the differential between imbalance and outcome, and one begins to open themselves up to an entirely different story—that of being out-of-alignment.
With the Dramatica theory of story, we see two critical dynamics of narrative that help us appreciate the narrative’s state of emotion: Story Outcome and Story Judgment. Remember that a complete narrative functions as an analogy to a single human mind trying to resolve an inequity—that single mind carries a state of emotion, and the juxtaposition of these two dynamics crystallizes that emotion for the Audience.
To the Linear thinker, a Success/Bad story is one of Personal Tragedy. While the efforts to resolve the story’s problem workout for everyone, they come at considerable cost to the Main Character’s personal sense of well-being. The Dark Knight, Unforgiven, and the first season of Westworld all share this bittersweet ending tragic to the individual.
The other side of bittersweet finds Failure in the Story Outcome and Good in terms of the Story Judgment. BlacKKKlansman, The Wife, and the pilot episode of the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel tell stories of Personal Triumph—where things don’t work out for everyone else, but end well for the primary character.
Personal Tragedy and Personal Triumph don’t do it for the Holistic. Like the all-out Triumph discussed in the previous article, there is no meaningful end for the Holistic, just an ending for now.
With that in mind, one begins to see these kinds of stories in terms of the state of vibration of the mind with external concerns. A sort of mental juggling ensues wherein the Author finds meaning in the relative balance between the internal and external.
If the Success/Good story finds the Holistic in alignment, then the Success/Bad and Failure/Good stories find this same person out of sorts with their environment—one at the low end of the spectrum, and the other at the high end.
These stories differ from the Triumph/Alignment story in that the self is still left in a state of emotional unrest—the whole self. The Holistic deals with the totality of experience—one tiny imbalance is enough to warrant a condition of misalignment. The balance between the objective and the subjective is so out-of-alignment that a state of low vibration consumes the individual.
Note that the low state of emotion within a Holistic Premise is not presented as a consequence of failed action. The Premise/storyform represents the totality of the experience, not merely the end result. The process of running through that experience plays a permanent role in sharing what it feels like to face that conflict.
Yes, resolution in the outside world might be found—a “Goal” may be achieved—but to the Holistic, that sense of not vibing with the outside world continues to be a source of irritation.
For instance, the first season of Wanderlust tells a Success/Bad story. Labeling it a Personal Tragedy is too simplistic, and frankly—too Linear—to capture the essence of this show.
Instead, the most accurate interpretation of Wanderlust’s Premise relies on painting a picture of the Holistic’s low vibrations:
Being in a low state of emotion encourages unfulfilling possibilities, but helps address what is lacking in your relationships with others.
With this arrangement of key narrative Storypoints, one sees the entirety of what it means to think holistically.
The Linear sees Outcome and Judgment as coming after the story plays out—a linear progression of cause and effect with the result that suggests that this happened because of that. Give up this Element or gain that Element, and you will achieve that Outcome.
The Holistic sees Judgment and Outcome as an ongoing process that comes during the story. This is why many Holistic thinkers can sense and possibly spoil a show’s ending for the Linear thinker. To the Holistic, the Outcome and Judgment are present in each and every scene. To the Linear thinker, the end hasn’t happened yet and to guess is merely another case of “intuition” getting in the way of a good show.
That low state of emotion referred to in the Premise, that Bad “ending,” is what encourages engagement in an unfulfilling leverage point. For Wanderlust, the item that appears to bring fulfillment and possibly help the Holistic climb their ladder of emotions is a possibility—the possibility and promise of new love, and the opportunity that engaging in this kind of behavior might help a waning marriage.
The story of Wanderlust proves that, while this approach may help you get a better idea of what is lacking in your relationships, it’s still going to leave you in that low state of vibration—and out of sorts with the world around you.
The next set of narrative potentials looks to those stories where the Holistic mind finds alignment with its truth but still fails to align seamlessly with the outside world. The path is known—just not yet taken.
With a Personal Triumph, the Linear thinker sees a Failure as worth the good feelings it brings to the individual. To the Holistic balance is everything, and while one might feel themselves in a higher state of vibration, the lack of resolution in the external continues to leave self and world out of alignment. To the Holistic, nothing is “solved” until balance returns.
Again, the path of balance is primary.
Spike Jonze’s techno-romance film her offers a look at this higher state of vibration:
Shifting your self-absorption to a greater awareness of others raises your frequency, opening you up to address your difficult circumstances with others.
A bit wordy—but when is it ever easy to describe the Holistic experience in a few simple words?
Here we see a Premise statement somewhat similar to the Triumph in that it speaks of balancing two narrative Elements. The striking difference lies in the ability of the self to balance these two—the shift indicates an intention towards this balance, but one not yet achieved. This shift foretells of a greater alignment—a path for one to continue down if they are to find a means to bring these two into alignment.
As with every Premise, meaning consists of the juxtaposition between an Objective Premise Element and a Subjective Premise Element. With the Holistic, the Objective looks to an Issue in the Overall Story plot, while the Subjective focuses on a critical Element buried within the Main Character’s Throughline. The presence of a third Subjective Balance Element counters this—but only when the individual manages to align with self.
With the Low Vibration story, that personal alignment falls out of sync with the realities of the outside world, making the absence of the Balance Element crucial to expressing the meaning.
Being in a low state of emotion encourages unfulfilling possibilities, but helps address what is lacking in your relationships with others.
Reverting this Premise to its base Elements reveals the presence of only two key Storypoints:
Being in a low state of emotion encourages POSSIBILITY, but helps address DEFICIENCY in your relationships with others.
That low state of emotion is making possibility seem like the answer for realignment. It isn’t—but it helps sync up that feeling of “lack of” with others.
Note the emphasis with the Overall Story Issue and the addition of its relation to others. To the Holistic, relationships are everything—more critical than Goals, and certainly more compelling than Consequences. Why else would one even entertain such an outlandish idea as the one found in Wanderlust?
This focus on the relationship carries over into any story featuring that low state of emotion. Consider The Social Network:
Being in a low state of emotion encourages unfulfilling production, but helps address what you should do in your relationships with others.
The Storymind of that film is a mind constantly out-of-sync with everyone around it. While that level of vibration leads to the creation of the world’s largest and most pervasive social network, it fails to fulfill—only indicating a direction one should take to bridge chasms between others.
Being in a low state of emotion encourages unfulfilling PRODUCTION, but helps address EXPEDIENCY in your relationships with others.
Expediency in a narrative is an indication of what one should do given the demands and needs of others—and of self. Because the mind is in a low stare of vibration, Production seems to be the answer and as The Social Network so elegantly proves—it is not.
The High Vibration story takes a different route as it tells of the individual vibing at a higher level. The Balance Element returns, and while it indicates the possibility of balance, accurate alignment still awaits.
Shifting your self-absorption to a greater awareness of others raises your frequency, opening you up to address your difficult circumstances with others.
Breaking this Premise down into its key Storypoints, we find that indication of our journey:
Shifting your SELF-AWARE to AWARE raises your frequency, opening you up to address your CIRCUMSTANCES with others.
Again, the balance between the two Subjective Premise Elements is not entirely aligned within this kind of story. The shift is there—an intention towards alignment—but until that point, the balance between self and environment remains out-of-sync. Moving in this direction raises the frequency of the Storymind, opening it up to the desired outcome.
Leave No Trace is a film that scored 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, yet virtually no one knows about. The reason? A Holistic Premise that advocates fulfillment over solving an unsolvable problem:
Shifting your prolonging of the inevitable towards moving on raises your frequency, opening you up to address your constant attention to others.
Again, the intention to align the self opens up the mind to be more receptive of a potential solution—and in doing so, reveals the point of disconnect between self and the external world.
Shifting your UNENDING towards ENDING raises your frequency, opening you up to address your THOUGHT to others.
The Linear mind operates in an area of Goal and Consequence, Problem and Solution. The Holistic prefers Frequency and Vibration, Inequity, and Equity. Balance is the direction, a path taken when the outcome is unknown.
These two additional thematic arguments—the Success/Bad Low Vibration Premise and the Failure/Good High Vibration Premise—explore an area essential to the Holistic experience.
By presenting these new additions to Subtext, we hope to honor that process and draw those more Holistic-minded writers closer to their story.
A connection is everything to the Holistic. When you measure your experience in terms of balance and relationships, the separation felt from being cut off is one of life’s greatest tragedies. It’s almost impossible for a holistic to dwell in total isolation—which explains why there are so few stories about these horrible circumstances.
The current version of Subtext offers close to 450 different unique story structures. Of those, only six feature a Holistic structure where the mind of the story changes while in a state of extreme disconnection. It rarely happens—because the Holistic would never entirely change without the security of knowing it was in tandem with the Universe.
Six stories. Out of 450.
One of those is so obscure no one even talks about it anymore (La Dolce Vita), and another is so strange that it only served to cement one filmmaker firmly in the independent zone (Tod Solodnz and Welcome to the Dollhouse).
Of course a third, the Milagro episode from the sixth season of The X-Files, happens to be one of my favorite stories—but it’s also about the tragedy of being a writer and features John Hawkes—so the show has a couple bonuses working in its favor.
Disconnection is the ultimate tragedy for the Holistic—certainly not a place they want to visit often.
A Linear thinker finds Tragedy in the juxtaposition of two key Storypoints: a Story Outcome of Failure and a Story Judgment of Bad. Hamlet, Othello, Manchester by the Sea, and The Florida Project all portray a Linear mind that resolves to change its approach—but finds Failure and more considerable angst (Bad) in the process.
The Holistic takes the same two Storypoints and builds a sense of disconnection throughout the entire story. That emotional state of being isolated, of seeing the solidity of self separate from the Universe, envelops the mind in tragic desolation. Depression and hopelessness kick in, bringing the frequency of vibration so low, that every choice only draws one further and further away from the desired outcome.
Consider Oliver Stone’s Platoon:
Disconnection isolates your recognition of truth from the outside world while leading you into the uncertainty of rash and impulsive behavior.
Sounds like that depressed state of emotion, right? The Holistic mind can’t make the connections it needs while in that low state of vibration and thus, falls into greater and greater despair.
The Holistic lives for balance. Living in this separated state only draws it further and further away from home, and closer and closer to a Linear/thinker’s experience of life—something that seems dreadfully simplistic and ultimately pointless to the Holistic.
That’s why the Objective Premise Element of this Holistic story falls back on the Linear mind’s preference for Goal and Consequence. When in alignment, or close to it, the Holistic mind vibes with the analog variations of the Overall Story Issue. While in this depressed state of low vibrations, the Holistic turns to the Story Consequence—mimicking the Linear in an attempt to find stable ground.
But it never works. And it never fulfills.
The Holistic can never be sure of linearity and thus, merely finds it a last option of sorts until it can find that connection once again.
Juxtaposing the Objective Premise Element of the Story Consequence with the Subjective Premise Element of the Holistic Main Character’s attempt at equity (Intention) creates a basis for appreciating this depressed state of emotion:
Disconnection isolates your PROVEN from the outside world while leading you into the uncertainty of PRECONSCIOUS.
Proven is the Main Character Intention Element and the Preconscious, or impulsive and rash behavior, is the Story Consequence of Platoon. Taylor proves himself a soldier as he intended, with the unintended consequence of finding out that man’s instinct for war runs counter to his nature.
When you factor in the totality of experience, as a Holistic does, you feel that overwhelming sense of hopelessness in the Premise.
Let’s try another one of those six films, this time The X-Files episode Milagro:
Disconnection isolates your natural talents from the outside world while leading you into the uncertainty of misunderstanding one’s purpose.
If you’re familiar with this episode, you know this Premise absolutely captures its tragic and offbeat essence.
Disconnection isolates your ABILITY from the outside world while leading you into the uncertainty of UNDERSTANDING.
Ability is the Main Character’s Intention and Understanding, or in this case Mis-understanding, is the unfortunate Consequence. Writer Padgett removes himself from the world by engaging fully with his natural talents and ends up leaving the meaning of his act open to misinterpretation.
A complete and utter low state of emotion—especially for a story about a writer trying to capture his heart’s real intention.
With this final Premise structure within the Changed Resolve category, the Holistic samples the loneliness of the Linear mind’s experience. Lonely from the point-of-view of the Holistic, not the Linear—for if you asked the latter, he would most likely tell you he prefers the isolation to the connectedness, as that’s the only way things can indeed get solved.
No approach is better than the other. One is merely more appropriate in different contexts. Nailing down and appreciating that meaning is the job of the Premise—which is why being able to ascertain Problem-Solving Style from this simple sentence becomes so essential to a writer.
Having explored the various meanings present in a story where the mind resolves to move in a different direction, we now turn our attention to narratives where the mind stays the course and ends up changing the world around her.
Main Character Problem-Solving Style
Our minds take one of two paths when faced with an inequity: the way of problem-solving or the path of justification. Problem-solving seeks to resolve the inequity. Justification aims to hide the inequity from the mind. The trick with the Holistic mind’s approach to inequity is that its version of problem-solving is actually just another form of justification.
A complete and functioning narrative consists of several vital dynamics. One of those dynamics, the Main Character Resolves, sets the nature of the story itself. A Changed Main Character Resolve, one where the Main Character adopts an entirely new point-of-view, signifies a Dilemma story.
The Steadfast Main Character Resolve story, one where the Main Character retains their world perspective, differs from the Changed Resolve in that the focus lies in the Work to be done, not the Dilemma. In fact, in these stories, a Dilemma never truly exists—the emphasis instead lies in maintaining that justification to carry on despite difficulties.
With the shift away from outcome incurred by a Dilemma, the Holistic narrative rests its meaning on the growth of self throughout the story. What is the process that draws one closer to an outcome?
Here we see the Holistic’s preference for justification as a method for conflict resolution. As conflict increases, the Steadfast Resolve must continually build up reasons, or justifications, for their approach.
The Linear mind problem-solves by problem-solving and justifies by justifying. The Holistic mind problem-solves by justifying and justifies by justifying.
The Holistic mind never wins in the eyes of a Linear thinker—they’re always justifying, always making “excuses” for their behavior.
The Linear approach to Steadfastness advocates a point of focus or a direction to take. Steadfast stories with a Main Character Growth of Stop draw attention to that point of focus. Those with a Main Character Growth of Start highlight the direction the work takes within the story.
A Linear-minded approach to the Premise of Juno would read:
Keep having faith and you can ensure a bright future for a newborn.
Do this, and you get that.
Clear and simple.
As the Holistic is always concerned with self first, and that relationship between self and the outside world, their process of Steadfastness involves something much more complicated than simply flipping a switch. Instead, a Holistic seeks to maintain good vibes to break through any resistance.
Staying in a higher state of vibration breaks through your limiting beliefs and allows greater openness with others.
As with previous Holistic incarnations of the Premise, the Objective Premise Element moves away from Goal and Consequence to rest its eyes upon the more dynamic Overall Story Issue. In Juno, that Issue is an Element of Openness. The Subjective Premise Element remains in the Main Character Crucial Element space, in this case, Faith—beliefs that hold you back.
Those limiting beliefs are an indication of resistance—resistance towards finding that ultimate balance and your intended outcome. The higher state of vibration is an indication of the Storymind’s willingness to be a conduit for the Universe.
We look to the Story Judgment of Good as an indicator of the Storymind’s current state of emotion. Good, and the mind is in a state of good vibrations; Bad, and the mind spins in an endless circle of bad vibrations.
The same Breaking Through Resistance Premise appears in the Drew Barrymore film Ever After. A Linear-minded thinker would see:
Keep refusing to accept things and you can find what you’re looking for.
While the Holistic would see:
Staying in a higher state of vibration breaks through your doubts and allows greater generosity with others.
Again, the Steadfast Holistic mind in a Good state vibes at a level that breaks through resistances.
The counter-balance to Resistance is Allowance. As a Goal needs a Consequence, and a Problem needs a Solution, Resistance is meaningless without an appreciation of Allowance.
Here, the focus on Allowance and direction allows the outcome to present itself to the mind. A high state of flow opens the mind up to greater receptivity, as it does in Roma:
Staying in a higher state of vibration allows you to read things a particular way and address your difficult situations with others.
Many people dislike this film, suggesting it was a mistake to give Alfonso Cuaron the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. 9 times out of 10, this disgruntled nature is the result of a predominantly Linear mind struggling with the impracticality of the above statement.
How does “feeling good” allow you to read things? You read things the way you read things, end of discussion. And even so, how does the way I see things possibly help me fix a difficult situation?
It doesn’t. One doesn’t lead to the other in a typical cause-and-effect manner. Which is why the particular set of conflicts encountered in Roma long for a Holistic mind to counter them. You can’t “fix” social and cultural revolution—but you can manage it. And Roma offers up one possible direction to address that kind of crisis.
A Bronx Tale does the same thing:
Staying in a higher state of vibration allows you to keep a love going and address your being respected by others.
The Holistic/Steadfast/Start story is all about Receptivity. The Holistic/Steadfast/Stop story is all about Breakthrough.
This, of course, presupposes a higher state of vibration—one where the Storymind exists in a Good state.
What does the Premise look like in a Bad state?
A lower state of vibration builds up Resistance, rather than breaks through it. Those bad vibes overwhelm the Storymind with clouded visions and unclear outcomes.
Consider the Holistic Premise for Moulin Rouge!:
Staying in a lower state of vibration builds up your resistance towards letting inhibitions go and clouds your relationships with misplaced accountability.
By remaining in that justified and disorganized state, Christian (Ewen McGregor) builds up resistance and clouds any sense of accountability between him and Satine, and pretty much anyone else in the story.
A Linear mind might try and write the same story with this Premise:
Everyone suffers the tragic consequences of becoming irrelevant when you keep living free.
And now you know why Moulin Rouge! is a Holistic narrative and not a Linear one. Not quite the same impact. Not quite the same meaning.
[45 Years](https://app.narrativefirst.com/storyforms/45 years “45 Years - Storyforms - Subtext”) is another film that follows this dynamic of building up resistance:
Staying in a lower state of vibration builds up your resistance towards being honest with yourself and clouds your relationships with antipathy.
Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) builds up more and more resistance in that film as she contends with her husband’s illicit affair and a subsequent aversion to her. She in kind, responds with greater and greater antipathy.
Years later, I can’t remember the plot of the film, but I do remember this sense of emotional blockage that infused the entire experience. That is the experience of the Holistic narrative—relationships over plot.
If the Holistic/Stop/Bad dynamic builds up resistance, then the Holistic/Start/Bad dynamic interrupts flow with its allowance of the negative. This mindset invites in disruption, again clouding the mind with uncertainty.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) allows confusion from every corner to seep into the narrative with its central Premise:
Staying in a lower state of vibration invites in your allowance of unpredictability and clouds your relationships with a loss of bearing.
What a strange and alien notion, yet one that makes complete emotional sense. The Holistic thrives on being open and receptive. When in a bad place, this justified state only confuses the mind with an inability to know which end is up. And whether or not what you’re inviting it will increase or decrease that sense of disassociation.
With The Manchurian Candidate, low vibes attract unpredictability and in turn cloud the mind’s understanding of who is who and where it stands among them. There is no solution, no goal to be achieved, no stakes to overcome. Just a pure experience of deep emotions and chaos as a mind navigates its place in the world.
Does this make this narrative any less of a story because the central character is not the driving force or that the “stakes” aren’t big enough? No. Because a story is an analogy to our mind’s approach to inequity and sometimes, that process of inequity resolution is more about the state of mind rather than solving a particular problem.
As with previous instances of a Holistic Premise, the Subjective Premise Element references the Main Character Crucial Element, and the Objective Premise Element taps the Overall Story Issue.
In stories where the Main Character’s Resolve is Steadfast, the Work becomes more critical than the Dilemma. The focus of the narrative lies on the point of attention and the response towards that perception of inequity. In Changed stories, the Main Character Crucial Element refers to either the Problem or Solution shared between the objective and subjective views of the narrative. Steadfast stories look to either the Focus or Direction element shared between these two perspectives.
Holistic stories adjust the dial even further in terms of understanding. To the Holistic, the Focus is a reference to Resistance, the Direction an indication of flow, or Allowance. Placing them alongside their Linear counterparts in the Dramatica model, we begin to appreciate the differences between the two mindsets and the quality of narrative structure present in both:
Focus and Direction almost walk the line between the two mindsets, not wholly Linear and not entirely Holistic. Recent versions of Dramatica cemented the Linear approach by converting Focus into Symptom and Direction to Response.
Holistics do not deal in symptoms, and their responses are rarely a reaction to what they think is a “problem.” When it comes to inequities, they appreciate resistance and allowance in relation to that irritant.
Stop stories find the Holistic Storymind appreciating Resistance. Start stories draw them towards Flow.
Reduced down to its base elements, the Premise for Juno, a Holistic/Stop/Good story, reads:
Staying in a higher state of vibration breaks through your FAITH and allows OPENNESS with others.
Faith is the shared Focus/Resistance Element, and Openness is the Overall Story Issue.
Moulin Rouge!, a Holistic/Stop/Bad story, takes a different path:
Staying in a lower state of vibration builds up your resistance towards UNCONTROLLED and clouds your relationships with RESPONSIBILITY.
Both narratives describe an experience with Resistance in the Holistic mind. One builds up that Resistance (Bad), one breaks through (Good).
Peeling away the layers of storytelling wrapped up in A Bronx Tale reveals these key Elements:
Staying in a higher state of vibration allows you to UNENDING and address your WORTH by others.
Tennessee Williams’s play The Glass Menagerie is another instance of Holistic Allowance, but one where that flow is interrupted:
Staying in a lower state of vibration invites in your allowance of supporting others and clouds your relationships with procrastination
Broken down into its base Elements, the Holistic Premise for the play reads:
Staying in a lower state of vibration invites in your allowance of SUPPORT and clouds your relationships with DELAY
Both narratives focus on Flow or allowance. One allows that Flow (Good), the other interrupts that flow (Bad).
You may notice a subtle difference between the Holistic Changed story Premise and the Holistic Steadfast story. The Changed story uses the conjunction “while” to combine the Subjective Element with the Objective Element. The Steadfast story uses “and” to connect objective with subjective. Why the difference?
Whereas the Linear operates in the realm of space and causality with notions of “if…then” and “when… also”, the Holistic swims in an ocean of time and tides. The Changed Holistic focuses on balancing Inequity with Equity issuing forth an alignment that happens while Changing. The Steadfast Holistic breaks through Resistance or allows Flow and continues a process of justification. Two different versions of parallel and simultaneous balance.
With this final set of narrative arguments, we complete our exploration of the Premise. The “Greed leads to self-destruction” approach is no longer sufficient enough to describe the thematic intent of a story. A Premise needs to combine both objective and subjective concerns together, and it needs to address the Holistic or Linear mind of the narrative itself.
A complete story is a total mind—one that explores conflict from several different points-of-view, and one that approaches the underlying inequity conflict through either problem-solving or justification. With the Holistic approach to the latter now explained, writers of every mindset can now find a Premise that supports and helps foster their unique view of the world.